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Upper Mesopotamia is the name used for the uplands and great outwash
plain In geography, a plain is a flat expanse of land that generally does not change much in elevation, and is primarily treeless. Plains occur as lowlands along valleys or at the base of mountains, as coastal plains, and as plateaus or Highland, up ...

plain
of northwestern
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...

Iraq
, northeastern
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
and southeastern
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia an ...

Turkey
, in the northern
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task whi ...

Middle East
. Since the
early Muslim conquests The early Muslim conquests ( ar, الفتوحات الإسلامية, ''al-Futūḥāt al-Islāmiyya''), also referred to as the Arab conquests and the early Islamic conquests began with the Prophets of Islam, Islamic prophet Muhammad in the 7 ...
of the mid-7th century, the region has been known by the traditional Arabic name of ''al-Jazira'' ( ar, الجزيرة "the island", also transliterated ''Djazirah'', ''Djezirah'', ''Jazirah'') and the
SyriacSyriac may refer to: *Syriac language, a dialect of Middle Aramaic * Syriac alphabet ** Syriac (Unicode block) ** Syriac Supplement * Neo-Aramaic languages also known as Syriac in most native vernaculars * Syriac Christianity, the churches using Syr ...

Syriac
variant ''Gāzartā'' or ''Gozarto'' (). The
Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Tigris–Euphrates river system, Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia (the "Land Between the Rivers"). O ...
and
Tigris The Tigris () is the easternmost of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of the Armenian Highlands through the Syrian Desert, Syrian and Arabian Deserts, and empti ...

Tigris
rivers transform
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...

Mesopotamia
into almost an island, as they are joined together at the
Shatt al-Arab , name_other = Arvand Rud , image = Shat al-arab-22.JPG , image_caption = Shatt al-Arab pictured near Basra, Iraq , map = File:Tigr-euph.png , map_size = , map_caption = Drainage basin and ...
in the
Basra Governorate Basra Governorate ( ar, محافظة البصرة ) (or Basra Province) is a Governorates of Iraq, governorate in southern Iraq, bordering Kuwait to the south and Iran to the east. The capital is the city of Basra, located in the Basrah District, ...
of Iraq, and their sources in eastern Turkey are in close proximity. The region extends south from the mountains of
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
, east from the hills on the left bank of the
Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Tigris–Euphrates river system, Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia (the "Land Between the Rivers"). O ...
river, west from the mountains on the right bank of the
Tigris The Tigris () is the easternmost of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of the Armenian Highlands through the Syrian Desert, Syrian and Arabian Deserts, and empti ...

Tigris
river and includes the
Sinjar Sinjar ( ar, سنجار, Sinjār; ku, شنگال ,Şingal, syr, ܫܝܓܪ, Shingar) is a town in the Sinjar District The Sinjar District ( ku, شنگال, Şingal) is a district of the Nineveh Governorate. The district seat is the town of Si ...

Sinjar
plain. It extends down the Tigris to
Samarra Samarra ( ar, سَامَرَّاء, ') is a city in Iraq Iraq ( ar, ٱلْعِرَاق, '; ku, عێراق '), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق '), is a c ...

Samarra
and down the Euphrates to
Hit, Iraq Hīt, also spelled ''Heet'' ( ar, هيت), ancient name ''Is'', is an Iraqi city in Al-Anbar Governorate, Al-Anbar province. Hīt lies northwest of Ramadi, the provincial capital. On the Euphrates, Euphrates River, Hīt is a small walled town bui ...
. The Khabur runs for over across the plain, from Turkey in the north, feeding into the Euphrates. The major settlements are
Mosul Mosul ( ar, الموصل, al-Mawṣil, ku, مووسڵ, translit=Mûsil, Turkish Turkish may refer to: * of or about Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country straddling Southeastern Europe a ...

Mosul
,
Deir ez-Zor Deir ez-Zor ( ar, دَيْرُ ٱلزَّوْرِ \ دَيْرُ ٱلزُّورِ, Dayru z-Zawr / Dayru z-Zūr; SyriacSyriac may refer to: *Syriac language, a dialect of Middle Aramaic * Syriac alphabet ** Syriac (Unicode block) ** Syriac Suppleme ...
,
Raqqa Raqqa ( ar, ٱلرَّقَّة, ar-Raqqah, also , and ) is a city in Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَ ...
,
al-Hasakah Al-Hasakah ( ar, ٱلْحَسَكَة, al-Ḥasaka, ku, حەسیچە Hesekê, syr, ܚܣܝܟܐ), is the capital city of the Al-Hasakah Governorate Al-Hasakah Governorate ( ar, محافظة الحسكة, Muḥāfaẓat al-Ḥasakah, syc, ܗܘܦܪ ...
,
Diyarbakır Diyarbakır (, hy, Տիգրանակերտ, lit=Tigranocerta, Tigranakert;Western Armenian pronunciation: ''Dikranagerd''; , syr, ܐܡܝܕ, Āmīd) is the largest Kurdish population, Kurdish-populated city in Turkey. Situated around a high plate ...

Diyarbakır
and
Qamishli , type = List of cities in Syria, City , image_skyline = Kamishly view.jpg , pushpin_map = Syria , pushpin_label_position = bottom , pushpin_mapsize = 250 , pushpin_map_caption = Location ...
. The western, Syrian part, is essentially contiguous with the Syrian
al-Hasakah Governorate Al-Hasakah Governorate ( ar, محافظة الحسكة, Muḥāfaẓat al-Ḥasakah, syc, ܗܘܦܪܟܝܐ ܕܚܣܟܗ, Huparkiyo d'Ḥasake, also known as syc, ܓܙܪܬܐ, Gozarto) is one of the fourteen Governorates of Syria, governorates (province ...

al-Hasakah Governorate
and is described as "Syria's
breadbasket The breadbasket of a country or of a region is an area which, because of the richness of the soil Soil is a mixture In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural ...
". The eastern, Iraqi part, includes and extends slightly beyond the Iraqi
Nineveh Governorate Nineveh Governorate ( ar, محافظة نينوى, syr, ܗܘܦܪܟܝܐ ܕܢܝܢܘܐ, Hoparkiya d’Ninwe, ku, Parêzgeha Neynewa ,پارێزگای نەینەوا) is a Governorates of Iraq, governorate in northern Iraq. It has an area of and a ...
. In the north it includes the
Turkish Turkish may refer to: * of or about Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country straddling Southeastern Europe and Western Asia. It shares borders with Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), offi ...

Turkish
provinces of
Şanlıurfa Urfa, officially known as Şanlıurfa (; ku, Riha, script=Latn; syr, ܐܘܪܗܝ, Ūrhāi; hy, Ուռհայ, Urrha; known in ancient times as Edessa and surrounding regions during the Early Christian period, with Edessa in the upper left ...
,
Mardin Mardin ( ku, Mêrdîn, ar, ماردين, syr, ܡܪܕܝܢ, Merdīn) is a city in southeastern Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia in Western Asia, with a small port ...
, and parts of
Diyarbakır Province Diyarbakır Province ( tr, Diyarbakır ili, Zazaki: Suke Diyarbekır ku, Parêzgeha Amedê), is a Provinces of Turkey, province in southeastern Turkey. The province covers an area of 15,355 km2 and its population is 1,528,958. The provinci ...
.


Geography

The name ''al-Jazira'' has been used since the 7th century AD by Islamic sources to refer to the northern section of Mesopotamia, which together with the Sawād, made up
al-‘arāq (Iraq)
al-‘arāq (Iraq)
. The name means "island", and at one time referred to the land between the two rivers, which in Syriac is ''
Beth Nahrain ''Beth Nahrain'' ( syc, ܒܝܬ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, Bêṯ Nahrayn, ); "between (two) rivers") is the name for the region known as Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن '; grc, Μεσοποταμία; Syriac language ...
(ܒܝܬ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ)''. Historically, the name could be restricted to the Sinjar plain coming down from the
Sinjar Mountains The Sinjar Mountains ( ku, چیایێ شنگالێ ,Çiyayê Şingalê, ar, جبل سنجار , syr, ܛܘܪܐ ܕܫܝܓܪ, Ṭura d'Shingar,) are a mountain range that runs east to west, rising above the surrounding alluvial steppe plains in nort ...

Sinjar Mountains
, or expanded to embrace the entire plateau east of the coastal ranges. In pre-
Abbasid The Abbasid Caliphate ( or ar, اَلْخِلَافَةُ ٱلْعَبَّاسِيَّةُ, ') was the third caliphate A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state under the leadership of an Islam Islam (;There ar ...
times the western and eastern boundaries seem to have fluctuated, sometimes including what is now northern Syria to the west and
Adiabene Adiabene (from the Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ...
in the east. Al-Jazira is characterised as an outwash or alluvial plain, quite distinct from the
Syrian Desert The Syrian Desert ( ar, بادية الشام, ''Bādiyat Ash-Shām''), also known as the Syrian steppe, the Jordanian steppe, or the Badia, is a region of desert, Semi-arid climate, semi-desert and steppe covering of the Middle East, including p ...

Syrian Desert
and lower-lying central
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...

Mesopotamia
; however the area includes eroded hills and incised streams. The region has several parts to it. In the northwest is one of the largest
salt flats Salt flats, Salt flat, Salt Flats, or Salt Flat may refer to: Geology *Salt pan (geology)Salt pans can refer to: *Salt pan (geology), a flat expanse of ground covered with salt and other minerals, usually found in deserts **Sabkha, a phonetic tran ...
in the world,
Sabkhat al-Jabbul Sabkhat al-Jabbūl or Mamlahat al-Jabbūl or Lake Jabbūl ( ar, سبخة الجبول) is a large, traditionally seasonal, Salt lake, saline lake and concurrent Salt pan (geology), salt flats (sabkha) 30 km southeast of Aleppo, Syria, in the ...
. Further south, extending from
Mosul Mosul ( ar, الموصل, al-Mawṣil, ku, مووسڵ, translit=Mûsil, Turkish Turkish may refer to: * of or about Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country straddling Southeastern Europe a ...

Mosul
to near
Basra Basra ( ar, ٱلْبَصْرَة, al-Baṣrah) is an Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, ...

Basra
is a sandy desert not unlike the
Empty Quarter The Rub' al KhaliOther standardized transliterations include: / . The ' is the assimilated Arabic definite article, ', which can also be transliterated as '. (; ar, ٱلرُّبْع ٱلْخَالِي (), the "Empty Quarter") is the sand de ...
. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries the region has been plagued by drought.


History


Prehistory

Al-Jazirah is extremely important archeologically. This is the area where the earliest signs of agriculture and domestication of animals have been found, and thus the starting point leading to civilization and the modern world. Al-Jazirah includes the mountain Karaca Dağ in southern Turkey, where the closest relative to modern wheat still grows wild. At several sites (e.g. Hallan Çemi, Abu Hureyra,
Mureybet Mureybet ( ar, مريبط, muribit, lit=covered) is a tell, or ancient settlement mound, located on the west bank of the Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Tigris–Eu ...
) we can see a continuous occupation from a hunter-gathering lifestyle (based on hunting, and gathering and grinding of wild grains) to an economy based mainly on growing (still wild varieties of) wheat, barley and legumes from around 9000 BC (see
PPNA Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) denotes the first stage of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic, in early Levantine and Ancient Anatolians, Anatolian Neolithic culture, dating to years ago, that is, 10,000–8,800 BCE. Archaeological remains are located in ...
). Domestication of goats and sheep followed within a few generations, but didn't become widespread for more than a millennium (see
PPNB Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) is part of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic The Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN) represents the early Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age, with a wide-ranging set of developments that ...
). Weaving and pottery followed about two thousand years later. From Al-Jazirah the idea of farming along with the domesticated seeds spread first to the rest of the Levant and then to North-Africa, Europe and eastwards through Mesopotamia all the way to present-day Pakistan (see
Mehrgarh Mehrgarh (; ur, ) is a Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human his ...

Mehrgarh
). Earlier archeologists worked on the assumption that agriculture was a prerequisite to a sedentary lifestyle, but excavations in Israel and Lebanon surprised science by showing that a sedentary lifestyle actually came before agriculture (see the
Natufian culture The Natufian culture () is a Late Epipaleolithic (Levant), Epipaleolithic archaeological culture of the Levant, dating to around 15,000 to 11,500 years ago. The culture was unusual in that it supported a Sedentism, sedentary or semi-sedentary pop ...
). Further surprises followed in the 1990s with the spectacular finds of the megalithic structures at
Göbekli Tepe Göbekli Tepe (, "Potbelly Hill"; known as ''Girê Mirazan'' or ''Xirabreşkê'' in Kurdish languages, Kurdish) is a Neolithic archaeological site near the city of Urfa, Şanlıurfa in Southeastern Anatolia Region, Southeastern Anatolia, Turkey. ...

Göbekli Tepe
in south-eastern Turkey. The earliest of these apparently ritual buildings are from before 9000 BC—over five thousand years older than
Stonehenge Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England, west of Amesbury. It consists of an outer ring of vertical sarsen standing stones, each around high, wide, and weighing around 25 tons, topped by connecting ho ...

Stonehenge
—and thus the absolute oldest known megalithic structures anywhere. As far as we know today no well-established farming societies existed at the time. Farming seemed to be still experimental and only a smallish supplement to continued hunting and gathering. So either were (semi)sedentary hunter-gatherers rich enough and many enough to organize and execute such large communal building projects, or well-established agricultural societies existed much further back than hitherto known. After all, Göbekli Tepe lies just 32 km from Karaca Dağ. The questions raised by Göbekli Tepe have led to intense and creative discussions among archeologists of the Middle East. Excavations at Göbekli Tepe continues, only about 5 percent has been revealed so far.
Sumer Sumer ()The name is from Akkadian language, Akkadian '; Sumerian language, Sumerian ''kig̃ir'', written and ,approximately "land of the civilized kings" or "native land". means "native, local", iĝir NATIVE (7x: Old Babylonian)from ''The ...

Sumer
ians are theorized to have evolved from the
Samarra culture The Samarra culture is a Late Neolithic archaeological culture of northern Mesopotamia, roughly dated to between 5500 and 4800 BCE. It partially overlaps with Hassuna and early Ubaid. Samarran material culture was first recognized during exc ...
of northern Mesopotamia.


Early history

The
Uruk period The Uruk period (ca. 4000 to 3100 BC; also known as Protoliterate period) existed from the protohistoric Protohistory is a period between prehistory and history during which a culture or civilization has not yet developed writing, but other cult ...
(c. 4000 to 3100 BC) existed from the protohistoric
Chalcolithic The Chalcolithic (),The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) , p. 301: "Chalcolithic /,kælkəl'lɪθɪk/ adjective ''Archaeology'' of, relating to, or denoting a period in the 4th and 3rd millennium BC, chiefly in the Near East and SE Europe, ...

Chalcolithic
to
Early Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in musical composition * Period, ...
period in Mesopotamia, including a section of the upper region. Upper Mesopotamia is also the heartland of ancient
Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of We ...

Assyria
, founded circa the 25th century BC. From the late 24th Century BC it was part of the
Akkadian Empire The Akkadian Empire () was the first ancient empire of Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of ...
, then is separated into three eras:
Old Assyrian Empire The Old Assyrian Empire was the second stage of Assyrian history, covering the history of the city of Assur Aššur (; Sumerian language, Sumerian: AN.ŠAR2KI, Assyrian cuneiform: ''Aš-šurKI'', "City of God Ashur (god), Aššur"; syr, ܐܫ ...
(circa 2050–1750 BC),
Middle Assyrian Empire The Middle Assyrian Empire is the period in the history of Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَ ...
(1365–1020 BC),
Median Empire bas-relief Relief is a sculptural technique in which the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of the same material. The term ''wikt:relief, relief'' is from the Latin verb ''relevo'', to raise. To create a sculpture in ...

Median Empire
(678-549 BC) and
Neo Assyrian Empire The Neo-Assyrian Empire (Assyrian cuneiform: ''mat Aš-šur KI'', "Country of the Assur, city of Ashur (god), god Aššur"; also phonetically ''mat Aš-šur'') was an Iron Age Mesopotamian empire, in existence between 911 and 609 BC, and became ...
(911–605 BC). The region fell to the Assyrians' southern brethren, the
Babylonians Babylonia () was an ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – ...
in 605 BC, and from 539 BC it became part of the
Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and offi ...

Achaemenid Empire
;
Achaemenid Assyria Athura ( peo, wikt:𐎠𐎰𐎢𐎼𐎠, 𐎠𐎰𐎢𐎼𐎠 ''Aθurā''), also called Assyria, was a geographical area within the Achaemenid Empire in Upper Mesopotamia from 539 to 330 BCE as a military protectorate state. Although sometimes ...
was known as ''Athura''. From 323 BC, it was ruled by the
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...

Greek
Seleucid Empire The Seleucid Empire (; grc, Βασιλεία τῶν Σελευκιδῶν, ''Basileía tōn Seleukidōn'') was a Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), off ...
, the Greeks corrupting the name to
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
, which they also applied to Aram. It then fell to the
ParthiansParthian may be: Historical * A demonym "of Parthia Parthia ( peo, 𐎱𐎼𐎰𐎺 ''Parθava''; xpr, 𐭐𐭓𐭕𐭅 ''Parθaw''; pal, 𐭯𐭫𐭮𐭥𐭡𐭥 ''Pahlaw'') is a historical region located in north-eastern Iran Iran ...

Parthians
and
Romans Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, ...

Romans
and was renamed Assyria by both. The area was still known as
Asōristān Asoristan ( pal, 𐭠𐭮𐭥𐭥𐭮𐭲𐭭 ''Asōristān'', ''Āsūristān'') was the name of the Sasanian The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians ( Middle Persian: 𐭠𐭩𐭥𐭠𐭭𐭱𐭲𐭥 ...
under the
Sasanian Empire The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (, ''Ērānshahr The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (Middle Persian Middle Persian or Pahlavi, also known by its ...

Sasanian Empire
until the
Muslim conquest of Persia The Muslim conquest of Persia, also known as the Arab conquest of Iran, was carried out by the Rashidun Caliphate The Rashidun Caliphate ( ar, اَلْخِلَافَةُ ٱلرَّاشِدَةُ, ') was the first of the four major caliphat ...
, when it was renamed al-Jazira. Since pre-Arab and pre-Islamic times, al-Jazira has been an economically prosperous region with various agricultural (fruit and cereal) products, as well as a prolific manufacturing (food processing and cloth weaving) system. The region's position at the border of the Sasanian and
Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survi ...

Byzantine
territories also made it an important commercial center, and advantage that the region continued to enjoy, even after the Muslim conquest of Persia and Byzantine possessions in the
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
. Al-Jazira included the Roman/Byzantine provinces of
Osroene Osroene (; grc, Ὀσροηνή / ''Osrhoēnē'', Romanized as ''Osroëne'', or ''Osrhoene'') was an ancient region and state in Upper Mesopotamia Upper Mesopotamia is the name used for the uplands and great outwash plain In geography, a pl ...

Osroene
and
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...
, as well as the Parthian/Persian provinces of Asōristān, Arbayestan,
Nisibis Nusaybin (; '; ar, نُصَيْبِيْن, translit=Nuṣaybīn; syr, ܢܨܝܒܝܢ, translit=Nṣībīn), historically known as Nisibis () or Nesbin, is a city in Mardin Province Mardin Province ( tr, Mardin ili, ku, Parêzgeha Mêrdînê, ...
, and
Mosul Mosul ( ar, الموصل, al-Mawṣil, ku, مووسڵ, translit=Mûsil, Turkish Turkish may refer to: * of or about Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country straddling Southeastern Europe a ...

Mosul
.


Islamic empires

The conquest of the region took place under the early Caliphate that left the general administration of the region intact, with the exception of levying the ''
jizya Jizya or jizyah ( ar, جِزْيَة; ) is a per capita ''Per capita'' is a Latin phrase literally meaning "by heads" or "for each head", and idiomatically used to mean "per person". The term is used in a wide variety of social sciences and sta ...
'' tax on the population. At the time of Mu‘awiyah, governor of
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...
and the later of the
Umayyad Caliphate The Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 CE; , ; ar, ٱلْخِلَافَة ٱلْأُمَوِيَّة, al-Khilāfah al-ʾUmawīyah) was the second of the four major caliphate A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state under ...
), the administration of
al-Jazira Jazira or Al-Jazira ( 'island'), or variants, may refer to: Business *Jazeera Airways, an airlines company based in Kuwait Locations * Al-Jazira, a traditional region known today as Upper Mesopotamia or the smaller region of Cizre * Al-Jazira (ca ...
was included in the administration of Syria. During the early Umayyad Caliphate, the administration of al-Jazira was often shared with that of
Arminiya Arminiya, also known as the Ostikanate of Arminiya ( hy, Արմինիա ոստիկանություն, ''Arminia vostikanut'yun''), Emirate of Armenia ( ar, إمارة أرمينيا, ''imārat Arminiya''), was a political and geographic designatio ...
, a vast province encompassing most of
Transcaucasia The South Caucasus, also known as Transcaucasia, is a geographical region on the border of Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of Europe. There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because the term ...
) and
Iranian Azerbaijan Azerbaijan or Azarbaijan ( fa, آذربایجان, ''Āzarbāijān'' ; az-Arab, آذربایجان, ''Āzerbāyjān'' ), also known as Iranian Azerbaijan, is a historical region in northwestern Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also ...

Iranian Azerbaijan
. The prosperity of the region and its high agricultural and manufacturing output made it an object of contest between the leaders of the early conquering Arab armies. Various conquerors tried, in vain, to bind various cities of the former Sassanian provinces, as well as the newly conquered Byzantine provinces of Mesopotamia, into a coherent unit under their own rule. The control of the region, however, was essential to any power centered in
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد ) is the capital of Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, ...

Baghdad
. Consequently, the establishment of the
Abbasid Caliphate The Abbasid Caliphate ( or ar, اَلْخِلَافَةُ ٱلْعَبَّاسِيَّةُ, ') was the third caliphate A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state under the leadership of an Islamic steward with the tit ...

Abbasid Caliphate
brought al-Jazira under the direct rule of the government in Baghdad. At this time, al-Jazira was one of the highest tax-yielding provinces of the Abbasid Empire. During the early history of Islam, al-Jazira became a center for the Kharijite movement and had to be constantly subdued by various caliphs. In the 920s, the local
Hamdanid dynasty The Hamdanid dynasty ( ar, حمدانيون, Ḥamdānyūn) was a Twelver Shia Twelver ( ar, ٱثْنَا عَشَرِيَّة; ' fa, شیعه دوازده‌امامی, '), also known as Imamiyyah ( ar, إِمَامِيَّة), is the ...
established an autonomous state with two branches in al-Jazira (under
Nasir al-Dawla Abu Muhammad al-Hasan ibn Abu'l-Hayja 'Abdallah ibn Hamdan al-Taghlibi ( ar, أبو محمد الحسن ابن أبو الهيجاء عبدالله ابن حمدان ناصر الدولة التغلبي; died 968 or 969), more commonly known sim ...
) and Northern Syria (under
Sayf al-Dawla ʿAlī ibn ʾAbū l-Hayjāʾ ʿAbdallāh ibn Ḥamdān ibn al-Ḥārith al-Taghlibī ( ar, علي بن أبو الهيجاء عبد الله بن حمدان بن الحارث التغلبي, June 22, 916 – February 9, 967), more commonly known ...
). The demise of the Hamdanid power put the region back under the nominal rule of the Caliphs of Baghdad, while actual control was in the hands of the Buyid brothers who had conquered Baghdad itself. At the turn of the 11th century, the area came under the rule of a number of local dynasties, the Numayrids, the
Mirdasids The Mirdasid dynasty ( ar, المرداسيون, al-Mirdāsiyyīn), also called the Banu Mirdas, was an Arab The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, ISO 233: , Arabic pronunciation: , plural ar, عَرَبٌ, ISO 233: ...
, and the
Uqaylids The Uqaylid dynasty () was a Shi'a Arab dynasty with several lines that ruled in various parts of Al-Jazira (caliphal province), Al-Jazira, northern Bilad al-Sham, Syria and Iraq in the late tenth and eleventh centuries. The main line, centered in ...
, who persisted until the conquest by the
Seljuq Empire The Great Seljuk Empire or the Seljuk Empire, was a high medieval Turco-Persian tradition, Turko-Persian Sunni Islam, Sunni Muslim empire, originating from the Kınık (tribe), Qiniq branch of Oghuz Turks. At the time of its greatest extent, the ...
. With the arrival of the
First Crusade The First Crusade (1096–1099) was the first of a series of religious wars, or Crusades, initiated, supported and at times directed by the Latin Church in the medieval period. The objective was the recovery of the Holy Land from Muslim conqu ...
, the western part came into Crusader hands as the
County of Edessa The County of Edessa (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power ...
, while the rest was ruled by a succession of semi-independent Turkish rulers until taken over by the Zengids, and eventually the Kurdish
Ayyubids The Ayyubid dynasty ( ar, الأيوبيون '; Kurdish: ئەیووبیەکان Eyûbiyan) was a Sunni Muslim dynasty of Kurdish origin, founded by Saladin Al-Nasir Salah al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub ( ar, الناصر صلاح الدين يوس ...
. Thereafter the northern and eastern portions were ruled initially by the
Artuqids The Artuqids or Artuqid dynasty ( or ', or ', or ', sometimes also spelled as Artukid, Ortoqid or Ortokid; Turkish plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of ...
, laterly by the
Kara Koyunlu The Qara Qoyunlu or Kara Koyunlu ( fa, قره قویونلو, az, Qaraqoyunlular ), also known as the Black Sheep Turkomans, were a Persianate society, Persianate Islam, Muslim Turkoman (ethnonym), Turkoman monarchy that ruled over the terri ...
and
Akkoyunlu
Akkoyunlu
Turcomans and finally by the
Safavids Safavid Iran or Safavid Persia (), also referred to as the Safavid Empire, '. was one of the greatest Iranian empires after the 7th-century Muslim conquest of Persia The Muslim conquest of Persia, also known as the Arab conquest of Iran, le ...

Safavids
; while the western parts came under the
Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt The Mamluk Sultanate ( ar, سلطنة المماليك, translit=Salṭanat al-Mamālīk) was a medieval realm spanning Egypt Egypt ( ; ar, مِصر ), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country spanning the N ...
until the
Ottoman–Mamluk War (1516–17) Ottoman–Mamluk War may refer to: * Ottoman–Mamluk War (1485–91)Ottoman–Mamluk War may refer to: * Ottoman–Mamluk War (1485–91) * Ottoman–Mamluk War (1516–17) {{disambiguation ...
* Ottoman–Mamluk War (1516–17) {{disambi ...
, when it was taken by the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther University) // CITED: p. 36 (PDF p. 38/338). was an empire that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Northern Africa between the 14th ...
. Remainder of this region was in Ottoman hands after
Battle of Chaldiran The Battle of Chaldiran ( fa, جنگ چالدران; tr, Çaldıran Savaşı) took place on 23 August 1514 and ended with a decisive victory for the Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther U ...
and
Ottoman–Safavid War (1532–1555) The Ottoman–Safavid War of 1532–1555 was one of the many military conflicts fought between the two arch rivals, the Ottoman Empire led by Suleiman the Magnificent, and the Safavid Empire led by Tahmasp I. Background The war was triggered by t ...
.


Modern history

The region is the traditional
homeland A homeland is the concept of the place where a cultural, national, or racial identity had formed. The definition can also mean simply one's country of birth. When used as a proper noun, the Homeland, as well as its equivalents in other languag ...
of the indigenous
Kurdish people Kurds ( ku, کورد ,Kurd, italic=yes, rtl=yes) or Kurdish people are an Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran ( fa, جمهوری اسلامی ...

Kurdish people
as well as Assyrian, Aramaic-speaking
Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ''Christian'' derive from the Koi ...

Christian
descendants of the ancient
Mesopotamians Mesopotamia ( ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن '; grc, Μεσοποταμία; Classical Syriac: ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ Ārām''-Nahrīn'' or ܒܝܬ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ ''Bēṯ Nahrīn'') is a historical region Historical regions (or hist ...
. Thousands of Assyrian refugees entered into Syrian Al-Jazira, from Turkey following the
Assyrian genocide The ''Seyfo'' or ''Sayfo'' ( syr, ܣܝܦܐ ; see below), also known as the Assyrian genocide or the Syriac-Aramean Genocide, was the mass slaughter and deportation of Syriac Christians (mostly belonging to the Syriac Orthodox Church, Church o ...

Assyrian genocide
of World War I. Additionally, in 1933 a further 24,000 Assyrian Christians fled into the area, following the
Simele massacre The Simele massacre ( syr, ܦܪܲܡܬܵܐ ܕܣܸܡܹܠܹܐ) ( ar, مذبحة سميل) was a massacre committed by the armed forces of the Kingdom of Iraq The Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq ( ar, المملكة العراقية الهاشمية ') ...
in the
Mosul Mosul ( ar, الموصل, al-Mawṣil, ku, مووسڵ, translit=Mûsil, Turkish Turkish may refer to: * of or about Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country straddling Southeastern Europe a ...

Mosul
region of northern Iraq. Violence against Christians changed the demographics of Upper Mesopotamia. Some Kurdish and Persian tribes cooperated with Ottoman authorities in the
Armenian Armenian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Armenia, a country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia * Armenians, the national people of Armenia, or people of Armenian descent ** Armenian language, the Indo-European language spoken ...

Armenian
and
Assyrian genocide The ''Seyfo'' or ''Sayfo'' ( syr, ܣܝܦܐ ; see below), also known as the Assyrian genocide or the Syriac-Aramean Genocide, was the mass slaughter and deportation of Syriac Christians (mostly belonging to the Syriac Orthodox Church, Church o ...

Assyrian genocide
s. In the middle of the 19th century, and due to the wars between the Kurdish Buhti amirs and the Turks, many Christians in the
Siirt Siirt ( ar, سِعِرْد ''Siʿird'',', syr, ܣܥܪܬ, Siirt, ku, Sêrt, ota, سعرد el, Σύρτη) is a city in southeastern Turkey and the seat of Siirt Province. The population of the city according to the 2009 census was 129,188. The m ...
area were killed by the Kurds. In Syria's Jazira province, the French official reports show the existence of 45 Kurdish villages in Jazira prior to 1927. After the failed
Kurdish rebellionsThis is an incomplete list of Kurdish uprisings. You can help bexpanding it List of conflicts References {{Reflist ...
in Kemalist Turkey in the mid 1920s, there was a large influx of Kurds to Jazira province, historically known as
Rojava The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (NES), also known as Rojava, is a de facto autonomous region in northeastern Syria. It consists of self-governing Regions of North and East Syria, sub-regions in the areas of Afrin Region, ...

Rojava
(West Kurdistan) that was now under the occupation of French Mandate of Syria to escape the subsequent Turkish onslaught. It is estimated that 25,000 Kurds fled at this time to Rojava, under French Mandate authorities, who encouraged their immigration, and granted them Syrian citizenship. A new wave of refugees arrived in 1929. The mandatory authorities continued to encourage Kurdish immigration into Syria, and by 1939, the villages numbered between 700 and 800. Sperl's estimation also contradicts the estimates of the French geographers Fevret and Gibert, who estimated that in 1953 out of the total 146,000 inhabitants of Jazira, agriculturalist Kurds made up 60,000 (41%), nomad Arabs 50,000 (34%), and a quarter of the population were Christians. Another account by Sir John Hope Simpson estimated the number of Kurds in Jazira province at 20,000 out of 100,000 people at the end of 1930. Under the French Mandate of Syria, newly-arriving Kurds were granted citizenship by French Mandate authorities and enjoyed considerable rights as the French Mandate authority encouraged minority autonomy as part of a
divide and rule Divide and rule policy ( la, divide et impera), or divide and conquer, in politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals ...

divide and rule
strategy and recruited heavily from the Kurds and other minority groups, such as
Alawite The Alawis, or Alawites ( ar, علوية ''Alawīyah''), are a sect of Shia Islam. The Alawites revere Ali (Ali ibn Abi Talib), considered the Imamah (Shia doctrine), first Imam of the Twelver Schools of Islamic theology, school. The group i ...
and
Druze Druze (; ar, درزي ' or ', plural ') are members of an Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Mi ...
, for its local armed forces. Assyrian Christians began to emigrate from Syria after the Amuda massacre of August 9, 1937. This massacre, carried out by the Kurd Saeed Agha, emptied the city of its Assyrian population. In 1941, the Assyrian community of
al-Malikiyah Al-Malikiyah ( ar, ٱلْمَالِكِيَّة, al-Mālikīyah, ku, Dêrik, syc, ܕܪܝܟ}) is a small Syrian city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. ...

al-Malikiyah
were subjected to a vicious assault. Even though the assault failed, the Assyrians were terrorized and left in large numbers, and the immigration of Kurds from Turkey to the area have converted al-Malikiya,
al-Darbasiyah Al-Darbasiyah ( ar, ٱلدَّرْبَاسِيَّة, ad-Darbāsīyah, ku, Dirbêsiyê) is a Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِ ...
and
Amuda Amuda ( ar, عَامُودَا, ʿĀmūdā, ku, Amûdê) is a town in Al Hasakah Governorate in northeastern Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ...
to completely Kurdish cities. The historically-important Christian city of
Nusaybin Nusaybin (; '; ar, نُصَيْبِيْن, translit=Nuṣaybīn; syr, ܢܨܝܒܝܢ, translit=Nṣībīn), historically known as Nisibis () or Nesbin, is a city in Mardin Province Mardin Province ( tr, Mardin ili, ku, Parêzgeha Mêrdînê, a ...
had a similar fate after its Christian population left when it was annexed to Turkey. The Christian population of the city crossed the border into Syria and settled in
Qamishli , type = List of cities in Syria, City , image_skyline = Kamishly view.jpg , pushpin_map = Syria , pushpin_label_position = bottom , pushpin_mapsize = 250 , pushpin_map_caption = Location ...
, which was separated by the railway (new border) from Nusaybin. Nusaybin became Kurdish and Qamishli became an Assyrian city. Things soon changed, however, with the immigration of Kurds beginning in 1926 following the failure of the rebellion of Saeed Ali Naqshbandi against the
Turkish Turkish may refer to: * of or about Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country straddling Southeastern Europe and Western Asia. It shares borders with Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), offi ...
authorities.Abu Fakhr, Saqr, 2013.
As-Safir ''As-Safir'' ( ar, السفير), meaning ''The Ambassador'', was a leading Arabic-language daily newspaper in Lebanon. The headquarters of the daily is in Beirut. It has been in circulation from March 1974 until December 2016. The last issue of th ...
.
Beirut Beirut ( ; ar, بيروت, ) is the Capital city, capital and largest city of Lebanon. , Greater Beirut has a population of 2.2 million, which makes it the List of largest cities in the Levant region by population, third-largest city in ...

Beirut
. ssafir.com/Article/331189#.UrbZIuK_guh التراجع المسيحي في الشرق: مشهد تاريخي(Arabic version)
As-Safir on the History of the Persecution of Middle Eastern Christians – Christian Decline in the Middle East: A Historical View
(English version).


Current situation

Djezirah is one of the four dioceses of the Syriac Orthodox Church. The others are in Aleppo, Homs–Hama and Damascus.Mouawad, Ray J. (2001
"Syria and Iraq – Repression: Disappearing Christians of the Middle East"
''Middle East Quarterly'' 8(1):


See also

* Assyrian homeland *
Beth Nahrain ''Beth Nahrain'' ( syc, ܒܝܬ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, Bêṯ Nahrayn, ); "between (two) rivers") is the name for the region known as Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن '; grc, Μεσοποταμία; Syriac language ...
* Fertile Crescent * Geography of Iraq


Notes


Bibliography

* Andrew M.T. Moore, Moore, Andrew M. T.; Hillman, Gordon C.; Legge, Anthony J. (2000). ''Village on the Euphrates: From Foraging to Farming at Abu Hureyra.'' Oxford: Oxford University Press. . * Peter M. M. G. Akkermans; Glenn M. Schwartz (2003). ''The archaeology of Syria: from complex hunter-gatherers to early urban societies (c. 16,000–300 BC).'' Cambridge University Press. pp. 72–. . Retrieved 27 June 2011. * Istakhri, Ibrahim. ''Al-Masālik wa-al-mamālik,'' Dār al-Qalam, Cairo, 1961 * Brauer, Ralph W., ''Boundaries and Frontiers in Medieval Muslim Geography'', Philadelphia, 1995 * Ibn Khurradādhbih. ''Almasalik wal Mamalik'', E. J. Brill, Leiden, 1967 * * Mohammadi Malayeri, Mohammad. ''Tārikh o Farhang-i Irān dar Asr-e Enteghaal'', Tus, Tehran, 1996 * Michael G. Morony, Morony, Michael G. ''Iraq after the Muslim Conquest'', Princeton, 1984 {{Authority control Upper Mesopotamia, Assyrian geography, * Near East Plains of Iraq Plains of Syria Plains of Turkey Iraq–Syria border Iraq–Turkey border Syria–Turkey border Historical regions